The government has instructed the Low Pay Commission (LPC) to consider the competitiveness of small firms when compiling its National Minimum Wage (NMW) report for 2011.

Employee Relations Minister Edward Davey said that small firms needed to be considered in minimum wage decisions. "Workers on the NMW are disproportionately likely to be employed by small companies and so it is right the Commission considers their competitiveness when they make their recommendations for next year," he said.

"SMEs will be vital to our economic recovery," he added.

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman welcomed the decision. "While local shops support the minimum wage and strive to pay above this rate, it has become increasingly difficult to maintain staffing levels with the year-on-year above inflation increases," he said.

The LPC has also confirmed new national minimum wage rates that will come into effect on October 1, 2010.

The new rate for workers aged 21 and over will be £5.93 per hour, up from the current £5.80. Apprentices will also be granted a minimum hourly wage of £2.50 per hour.